To recap the high points from before on these various types of professional and creative media:
- Music is now a loss leader rather than the central product. It is tacitly understood that, since at least a plurality of consumers know or expect to be able to download it for free, the producers hope to use it to get consumers to actually purchase swag, concert tickets, etc.
- Books are still a product, but Amazon has created an economy of scale and a royalty scheme that flattens the landscape for self-publishing, and disintermediates all the middlemen of the traditional industry. As more people get used to electronic reading, especially when coupled with the ease, portability, and capacity of devices, they have become accustomed to lower prices.
- Short-form factual writing -- again, informative articles and journalism -- are simply clickbait. The revenue model for websites is strictly ad-based, usually with some combination of Google Adwords or AdSense, Kontera or some such, or even just privately contracting ad space on your website to various buyers. The barrage of cheap and easy "[#] Ways [noun] [verb] [object]" (one typically ludicrous recent ClownHall example is titled "15 Ways Liberals Are Like Bratty Kids") has resulted in a simple go-to template that has been abused practically to death, but shows no signs of abating.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of that dynamic is that, while musicians and authors can at least theoretically pin their content either to cross-promotional products, or scale up their audience on Amazon, the journalist has no such options. What we've seen happening is basically your HuffPo model -- create and run your own portal, sell a shitload of ad space (again, the actual product at the end of all this) and then try to corral writers who don't mind trading valuable time for a slim chance at name recognition.
This is one of those issues I keep trying to chicken-egg, back and forth, over and over. Does the lowest common denominator shift because content is cheap and easy, or is the content curation model simply giving people what they wanted all along? In the aggregate, it seems now that too many people are ready and willing to consume a news-like product, devoid of nutrients and context, and unwilling to figure out the context on their own, from, I dunno, a history book.
It all comes back to asking oneself why precisely we want to inform ourselves, if it's actually to understand how the world works and to make informed decisions based on that knowledge, or just as affirmation of imaginary grievances, or just to be a part of ephemeral cultural phenomena, to anonymously register our impotent outrage on some network news chat board, as if it had any meaning or use.
Ultimately, this is where talented writers like Kreider will lose out. I think his former RS colleague Matt Taibbi has a better grasp of what the new journalism model is for people who actually do journalism, as opposed to people who just want to be a cable news anchor. By complementing his journalistic output with well-researched, topical books, and shrewd, acerbic TV appearances, Taibbi may just be carving a path for a noble but dwindling breed.